Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Mission Skegness

Skegness is about 80 miles from Nottingham so we spread our journey over two days by splitting the journey into two legs with an overnight stay in a B&B at Woodhall Spa. The first part of our ride although the longest at 50 miles went well with a slight tailwind and good roads. In Newark we stopped off at the usual watering hole, Thomas' (opposite Morrisons) where one of the staff, when hearing of our plans, said we were on a 'mission' .

The much dreaded hill at Navenby proved a lot easier than expected, rewarding us with panoramic views over the Lincolnshire flatlands. From then on it was incredibly flat as we sped along the impossibly straight and never-ending fen roads, through Scopwick and Timberland, over the modern Kirkstead bridge and on to Woody itself.

Woodhall Spa is nothing to shout about. It's a pretty enough place, set in a wooded area, but it is a bit flat and slightly too laid back (dead in fact) for our liking. The town doesn't really shout about its attractions, such as the Spas and the delightful Kinema in the Woods and does suffer from being host to the 'International Golfing Center' which fits well, I guess, with its inherent dullness.

English Electric Lighting Nr Tattershall
English Electric Lighting Nr Tattershall

The Bed and Breakfast, Lavender Cottage, didn't have much lavender and wasn't really a cottage - more of a bungalow in fact. Also we simultaneously arrived at the conclusion that our landlady's heart wasn't entirely in this B&B thing. Vegetarian or not breakfast consisted of mushrooms, bacon, egg, grilled tomato and a sausage. Standard issue from the local Budgens I suspect. Admirably, A. who doesn't like bacon tackled hers stoically without a word of complaint - bless her. The room itself was clean and smart, the bathroom was a bit small though and the electrics packed up in the night. At breakfast we met a middle aged couple from Ipswich whose son was at the Golfing Center and who travelled frequently on the Eurostar to their second home in Poitiers.

After breakfast and a good crap in the increasingly smelly bathroom (no electrics for the extractor fan remember) we set off on the next 30 mile leg of our journey to the plastic gun capital of Lincolnshire. Navigation was easy enough through Tattershall (where we spotted an English Electric Lightning in a field) and North of Coningsby, through Stickney and a myriad of tiny Fen villages and a pumpkin patch to the level crossing at Thorpe Culvert where we finally went completely awry and ended up in Wainfleet-All-Saints. Disorientated, it took us three passes through this rather grim village until we ended up on the A52 to Skegness which though busy was a surefire way of getting to our destination before sundown.

Skegness was busier than on our last visit, but that is hardly surprising considering the last time we were here was in April 2007. It looks much better in the Summer. Both hungry and thirsty we located a half decent looking restaurant (The Windsor), ordered some food and soaked up the seaside ambiance. After a stroll along the wonderful huge sandy beach and £1 worth of penny pushing excitement in one of the arcades at the Pleasure Beach we headed for the railway station to catch the 1615 back home contented that this was an enjoyable weekend well spent.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Lichfield

Lichfield is a pretty city. With two expanses of water (or Pools) sitting right next to the town and adjacent to the Cathedral it is well worth a visit. The Cathedral itself is spectacular and at night, with it's pointy spires, when not illuminated, looks rather like one of the Shadow ships from Babylon 5 thrusting up from out of the earth. A bonus is that unlike Great Malvern there are actually lots of places to eat in Lichfield, including the award winning Chandlers which is the place we chose for our evening meal.

Lichfield is fairly easy to cycle to from Nottingham - about 48 miles all in all if you go the scenic route via Shardlow, Aston, Repton and Burton on Trent. It isn't too hilly since it follows the Trent river valley, however be prepared for a few slopes around Repton and Burton. Also be prepared for the very bumpy roads which led to A's seat bolt snapping rather fortunately about 50 yards from a a cycle shop in Long Eaton.

Repton hosts a lovely tea-room, the Brook Farm tea rooms, an ideal stop-off for the wary cyclist and Repton also has the distinction of being the ancient capital of Mercia with a four king crypt in the impressive church.

Netherstowe House where we stayed was quite grand and provided a lovely room (The Garrick) but with a small bathroom. it is set in the middle of an housing estate but you couldn't tell.

We enjoyed Lichfield so much that we are looking forward to returning one day to see more of the sites and events that this historic town hosts.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Runner Beans


After a disappointing start to our Runner Bean crop when I prematurely planted out the seedlings in a warm spell in May only to have them severely knocked back by a frost a few days later we are now inundated with them.
We have put them in stir-fries, curries, any and every meal we have and still they come.
They are delicious though, and high in protein. As a bonus the roots of Beans fix Nitrogen and so improve the soil in which they grow.
For me Runner Beans come highly recommended. Get some.